Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup


"Beyond Borders"

Directed by Martin Campbell ("Goldeneye").
Written by Caspian Tredwell-Owen.
Starring Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  10/30/03


About 14 people across the nation saw this film last weekend, and one of those suckers was me.  It’s interesting, with some of these larger film vehicles—I have been going to the movies four or fives times a week for a month, but didn’t see a single preview for “Beyond Borders”, just a bunch of large billboards for the film all over town.

So, how does anyone expect this thing to make any money?  Unfortunately for the filmmakers, they have a good film on their hands and I wonder if it will ever see a more mainstream light of day.  Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen star as aid workers that meet first in Ethiopia in the mid-80s, then over the next 20 years find their lives crossing over again and again on aid projects in Cambodia and Chechnya, while also meeting up in London (where the workers are originally from) on occasion as well.  Is there a romance there?  It would be tough, with the Jolie character having a husband and two children...and, with the Owen character pretty tough to nail down since he is also illegally transporting arms for a shady individual from Russia.

The strength of the film lies in two areas for me—the chemistry between the two leads, and the amount of insight I gained on the aid situation in Africa in the mid-80s.  I typically play the role of lazy don’t-give-a-shit gringo, so I often find myself turning the channel whenever I see Sally Struthers on my TV screen trying to convince me that I need to send just a dollar a day to save some needy children.  Director Martin Campbell (“Goldeneye”) does a great job of keeping you hooked by sending us to Ethiopia first to see just how rough it could be for an aid camp, even IF that camp has some money regularly coming in.  The Namibia sets (standing in for Ethiopia) are harsh and desolate, and paint a great picture of what it might be like to try and survive in the middle of nowhere.  When the film goes to Cambodia, things turn tragic for members of the aid teams in the film...there is a stunning sequence featuring a baby, a grenade, and some pissed-off Cambodian soldiers.  This scene is by far the money shot for the film.

I would imagine that for those that really are on top of the world’s plight with hunger, health issues and other things that third-world countries deal with on a day-to-day basis, “Beyond Borders” is probably a preachy, preachy film—so much so that it could be unwatchable.  But, I was learning a thing or two, so it held my interest.  One thing that can’t be debated is the film’s length—man, does this thing run on for a while.  You know that the two leads want to get together, so Campbell holds this bit too long for those of us that just want the romance to come to some sort of resolution.  Also, the final leg of the film in Chechnya was a bit far-fetched for was fun to see how it would be resolved, but the setup was just a bit too...well, “movie.”

This will be out of theaters by the end of next week, for sure.  But, I walked out of the theater quite happy about the experience; this one might be quite different for you, though, if I had to guess...

Rating:  $9.50 Show


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09